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Philippine Financial Institutions Must Fortify Against Cyber Attacks

There are lots of ways to ramp up cyber protection. With the speed at which cyberfraud has risen through the pandemic and knowing its potential risks, the Philippine Central Bank is mandating cyberfraud monitoring systems for all financial institutions. While it may not be 100% safe given the sophistication of cybercriminals, it can be a great start.

To counter cybercrimes, all registered Financial Institutions or FIs under the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), the country’s central bank, are required to put up a real-time automated fraud monitoring system. This has been announced by Benjamin Diokno, BSP Governor. In a recent virtual briefing, he explained that this is what Circular Number 1140 issued recently is all about. It is a timely amendment with regards to the IT Risk Management Framework. Cyberattacks and online criminal activity have become so rampant that they occur to two or even more FIs at the same time, recent surveillance showed.

The anti-cyber attack system should be able to respond in real-time. Diokno emphasised two systems, the anti-money laundering one and the automated fraud monitoring the other. Both must be “integrated” so their capacity to prevent a financial crime is comprehensive and cohesive.

Additionally, FIs should involve their customers. Towards this end, they should have a consumer education programme that utilises interactive platforms, the government head added. Said Circular aims to minimise financial losses due to cybercrimes and maximise financial transactions via digital means in the Asian nation. Already, the BSP has been pushing for the digital transformation of the country’s microfinance lenders as reported on OpenGov Asia.

The BSP believes that a holistic and coordinated approach among the industry players is necessary to ensure that funds cannot be easily siphoned off by fraudsters and cybercriminals. In line with this, the BSP shall continue to engage with relevant stakeholders to ensure those policy frameworks and supervisory actions are effective and responsive amid a fast-evolving cyber security environment.

– Benjamin Diokno, Governor, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas

 Moreover, he mentioned how the drive to grow interoperable facilities has broadened digital payments use in the archipelago. Key examples of these are InstaPay and PESONet, both electronics fund transfers. Then, there’s QR PH, the nationally-mandated standard for QR Codes, and e.Gov pay, the government web-based facility that allows the public to pay needed contributions or avail of loans.

In 2021, the number of transactions for PESONet reached 21.8 million, amounting to PHP 1.3 trillion (US$ 24,801,595,000). That has gone up. To date, PESONet transactions reached 21.8 million, amounting to PHP 1.9 trillion (US$ 36,248,485,000). The same holds true for InstaPay. Its volume grew as much as 32.7 % by end of April 2022. That represents 166 million transactions, up from 125 million in the first four months last year.

Further, the BSP governor stressed that they are ensuring that Systematically Important Payments (SIPs) are following global standards to encourage greater adoption of digital financial systems.

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